The 29thannual Gatlinburg Scottish Festival is a lot more than just a 2-½ day runner up to the week long Grandfather Mountain Highland Games held July 8-11, on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC.
The Gatlinburg, Tennessee games, held May 14-16, 2010 at Mills Park, 1230 E. Parkway, on the northeast side of Gatlinburg, spotlights Celtic Scottish history, culture, and events. My family has attended a few times in the past five years, and one of my previous East Tennessee Smoky Mountains Bed and Breakfast guests, Roger Underwood, plays in the Knoxville Pipes and Drums which just appeared in the Dollywood International Parade. He generously provided the photos for this blog.
The bag pipers lead off the festivities at 6 p.m., on Friday, May 14th, with a parade down the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. If you are a Scot, you may walk behind or follow in a trolley. A gala reception follows at the Quality Inn Creekside.
For a small admission, events start at 8:30 a.m. at Mills Park both Saturday and Sunday. Highlights for my family have always been the Border Collie demonstrations, the Celtic rock bands, and the competitive sporting events. But, there are so many things going on, you can pick and choose. Visit with over 60 heritage and clan societies to assist in exploring your heritage. Be sure to stay for the Ceilidh Under the Stars, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Center stage is a plethora of bagpipe bands. Click here for a U-Tube video of the Knoxville Pipe and Drum Band. Under tents and on stages, you will find Celtic punk bands, balladeers on guitars, and highland dancing. Sheep dog trials will be conducted twice daily. Men, women, and kids compete in both amateur and pro competitions for several stone putting games: braemar stone, open stone, heavy hammer, turning the caber, tossing the haggis, sheaf, WFH and heavy and light WFD. Vendors offer food, jewelry, books, music, and Scottish clothing. Visit www.gsfg.orgfor more information or call (865) 368-2543. Dress for the weather, no pets allowed, and consider staying at one of the many bed and breakfasts in the area! mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast.
If you need to feel righteous about golfing while your beloved “makes do” with a massage and a half-day shopping the Pigeon Forge outlets, this is the event for you. For the eleventh year, Friends of the Mary E. Tippitt Memorial Library are hosting their Golf Tournament Benefit on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at the Laurel Valley Golf Course in Townsend, Tennessee.
Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Library by helping fund the services that the Library provides to the community. (See below for the love story.) Registration for the golf tournament starts at 11:30 a.m., with lunch provided for the participants. The tournament starts at 1:00 p.m. Entry fee for players is $80, with an available $20 mulligan package. You can pick up forms at the Mary E. Tippitt Memorial Library, 120 Tiger Dr, Townsend, TN, at the Townsend Visitor Center on Highway 321, and the Laurel Valley Country Club.
In the past, a dozen or more teams of four players have enjoyed playing 18 holes at this beautiful mountain course. Cash prizes are awarded to the best team, closest to the hole, longest drive, and longest putt. This year a special plaque, which will be on display at the clubhouse, honors the winning team. Numerous door prizes and a new car, for a hole-in-one add to the day’s excitement. For more information call Mike Roach at (865) 448-8282. For hole sponsorship contact Judy Krueger at (865) 448-6501.
Don’t you just hate the e-mails you receive that say “You have to read to the end”? Well, I’m glad you did. In 1997, Charles Tippitt opened the Townsend library from scratch as a memorial tribute to his first wife Mary. He rented the space and filled it with 5000 books for adults and children. Over the years it has more than quadrupled in size and grown to a new location, and for a town our size, it is a marvel of information and activity including public access to computers and various children’s programs. Later Charles married Ms. Sue Ann Schlosser, a librarian from Sikeston, Missouri. Sikeston’s loss was our gain when Sue Ann relocated here. Our community has been doubly blessed. mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast
At the Library and open to all, at 10 a.m. the third Thursday of each month is B.E.A.R. (Be Excited About Reading) Facts Book Club!Read More
While the Cades Cove loop road or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail are big draws for our guests at this East Tennessee Bed and Breakfast, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is doing some needed repairs on these heavily trafficked roads starting March 1st, 2010. Roads affected and the targeted completion of these repairs are:
Cades Cove Loop (that will also close one-way Parsons Branch & Rich Mountain Rd) 5/21 (an update from the Park, the Loop Rd. will open a month early on 4/24!)
Clingman’s Dome 5/28
The Sinks parking area 5/25
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail 5/28
& Cherokee Orchard past the Noah B Ogle cabin 3/19
While these are some of the Park site seeing highlights, these closures will not affect normal “drive through” traffic on the artery roads. Trails accessed from the roads under repair will be closed also, but with 900 miles of trails in the Park, you have a plethora of choices to choose from. As always, for up to date information on closures call the National Park at 865-436-1200. Extension 631 will give you road closures, and extension 630 is the weather report.
So you might ask yourself WHAT IS A PERSON TO DO while we deal with the face lift? Jeepers, :-O not to worry! There are enough outdoor nature activities besides the shop till you drop experience in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to keep you busy for a week. Or, why not order a picnic lunch or appetizer tray and stay here? Come to breakfast in your robe and curl up in front of the fireplace with a good book, game, or watch a little satellite TV afterwards.
Several years ago on New Years Eve, guests Craig and Ashley stayed here while their friends Allen and Jodi got married in the area. The next year they came back and brought Allen and Jodi with them, appearing to have become a yearly tradition. (Lucky me…) After breakfast on New Years Eve this year, Jodi dug a 1000 piece puzzle out of the game cabinet and said she thought she would put it together. This was the last full day of their stay and honestly I was thinking she is out of her mind. It would take me the whole three days of their stay just to pick out the straight edge pieces and get the perimeter put together. A few hours later I took the middle photo you see on the left. They broke for dinner and went out and about; afterwards, with the four of them watching TV, Jodi continued. Occasionally someone else would plunk in a piece. By midnight she was down to the last couple of hundred pieces and had the full attention of all of us. I think we/SHE finished around 2 or 3 AM. I believe the government is missing the boat by not offering her a job. (“Should she choose to accept…”) I can see her sitting in a room with no windows, low light, and piecing together something that saves us from ourselves. With five minutes to spare. What a gift. mizkathleen@ Gracehill
Local Channel 10 WBIR TV held a contest to determine the top five bed and breakfasts in East Tennessee. Any one logging onto WBIR’s website could cast a vote for the several days the contest ran. By Friday at noon, Gracehill B&B was at the top of the list with four of the five winners belonging to the Smoky Mountain Bed and Breakfast Association.
This February, your not so intrepid innkeeper, moi, elected to take some vacation time, and for the first time in ten years, enjoyed the winter snowfall instead of obsessing about keeping the road open for guests and us to get up and down the mountain safely. It was a tough call because the month of February brings us Valentine’s traffic every weekend. By choosing to take some time off and let Mother Nature take her course, the up shot was, Mom and I were snowed in for nine days. Beautiful, absolutely, but as the level in the propane tank dropped by the eighth day, I decided it was time to start shoveling. Hans, our gardener, played a big part in this little 6/10th of a mile endeavor. I started at the top, he at the bottom, and thankfully the twain did meet! Besides, there was only one scoop of ice cream left in the freezer and we had eaten enough out of the pantry to see that I should probably repaint the shelves…
Twenty-four hours after getting the road opened back up I decided to ease on down the road into Maryville to run some errands. My phone rang while there with the news of the contest and asking if WBIR reporter Josh West could meet me at Gracehill for some photos. You might ask yourself just how fast can an old lady drive? I beat him with just enough time to pull the car in the garage and fluff my hair!
I was asked why did I think we won? My answers were bouncing all over as my mouth flapped, but to be honest??? Cause Gracehill has always been blessed with the very best of guests any innkeeper could ask for. Thanks from the bottom of this transplanted Yankee to Southern heart to ya’ll who took the time to vote. mizkathleen @Gracehill
Keri and Tim Meeker, here at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast for four days on their 1st anniversary, ran the gamut of what Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Townsend, TN have to offer with one new activity, to me at any rate! They went ATV four wheeling with Bluff Mountain Adventures in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Bluff Mountain offers guided ATV Trail Rides at Walden Lodge on Bluff Mountain. Guests sign in at the ticket office on the parkway in Pigeon Forge, and then proceed down Wears Valley Road to Walden Creek and the site where they pick up their ATV. Keri and Tim did the hour and half tour that took them up the mountain, crossing streams, to get to the top of Bluff Mountain at 2300 feet. They said the company not only went out of their way to provide a safe yet scenic tour, they were very conscientious about the strengths and weaknesses of the group and tailor made the ride for them. Definitely an activity worth repeating as the Meeker’s gave it two thumbs up. The hot tub was waiting for them when they returned to the B&B. mizkathleen@ GracehillRead More
October 2009 brought Gracehill B&B its busiest month since opening at Thanksgiving in 2000. As the pace eased in November and December, while most folks got ready for the holidays, I decided to jump in with both feet and do two projects that had been on my TO DO LIST for ten years.
Neighbor and friend extraordinaire, Jim Maness of Century 21 in Maryville, TN, moonlighted and painted the 16 foot dome ceiling in the living room a warm beautiful yellow and the hallway off three of the guest rooms a light taupe. Moving all the scaffolding was a chore in itself that was further complicated by two different Christmas parties! We were rolling out the scaffolding an hour before the appetizers were going in the oven. Once Jim was done, Lisa Haggerty Palmer came in and opened the skies for us on the living room ceiling and painted a beautiful sunset, sunrise??? Your pick. Lisa had been a guest of ours at Gracehill in the past, and we became reacquainted when she painted the backdrop for the altar at St. Francis in Townsend.
I tackled the downstairs hallway. I had always wanted to paint the words of a song, as a border, where the wall meets the ceiling. I’d had ten years to pick the song so you’d have thought I wouldn’t still be agonizing over the choice… It also needed to fit in 68 feet of linear space using an 8” font. Finally decided on the second verse of “How Great Thou Art.” Hope you like it as much as I do. mizkathleen@ Gracehill
When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
This must be Gracehill’s favorite rock, see the blog of July 8th, and, one of my favorite photos of the season, took it in August. My office overlooks the back patio area and waterfall. Every once in a while, I glance outside and see either guests or wildlife. Suppose the wildlife would consider us the guests.
I am more of a flop in bed with a book at night, or an easy chair during the day, type of reader, but Scott and Jessica were soaking up some rays sitting on the rocks before the long trek home.
I wonder how many readers marry non-readers? I’m not talking about what you have to read for work, but readers who carry a book with them in case they get stuck somewhere. Surely a compatibility study has been done on this topic. I think it really comes down to those folks who can sit together comfortably in a room for hours without talking to each other versus those whose vocal cords would freeze up with five minutes of silence. A reader friend of mine is married to a non-reader. She says after 45 years of marriage they not only can but do sit in silence for hours on end.
Wildlife likes warm rocks also. In retrospect, I wonder if there was anything lurking. Looks peaceful enough, but my guests could have been living on the edge for the hour they were there, and never knew how close they came to a critter encounter. Music of the “Twilight Zone” grows louder.
Shifting gears, it’s November and the green is gone replaced with lots of brown. Splashes of red and yellow are here and there. I took this second photo a few mornings ago. Was on my way to the kitchen at 6:30 AM. Looked out front and the moon was huge, glowing and just perfect. Swung into my office to grab my camera and made the mistake of clicking on my inbox. In the two minutes it took me to answer one short email , the moon all but disappeared. Seems like life goes just as fast. I attended a seminar in September, where the computer guru told us innkeepers that if we didn’t have a photo of ourselves posted on our websites, we were missing the boat. “Guests want to see who will be flipping their eggs.” I went to my web page today to plunk a photo in and read the “Gracehill Story” for the first time in years. Made me realize how much has happened since that first breakfast ten years ago. I had a family of six. At my first official breakfast, I made waffles for the main course. By the time I got done making six waffles, the first person who had eaten was ready for lunch! Music from the “Twilight Zone” fades, and the jingle “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” floats through my head. By the way, if the urge hits to scope out my first time ever, newly released photo, please realize I have never flipped a fried egg in my life. There’s still time I guess… mizkathleen@ GracehillRead More